Musashi has returned to the quaint village of his childhood, a rural Neverwhere in the hinterlands of Japan. He meets four pretty girls who claim to be his childhood friends, but he can't remember them. Of course, it turns out that his childhood home and friends are far more than he expected ... and certainly his relations with these girls have turned out that way as well!
What a relief it is to review something in the hentai field without bizarre kinks or strange fetishes, much less tentacle rape.
Koihime is a well-animated piece that for some reason reminds me of the whole premise of Love Hina (half-forgotten childhood premises) commingled with folklore and a little bit of fantasy. By all accounts, it should be a mess, because this is hentai. But occasionally a studio will get something like this right, and it should be no surprise that this time, it's Pink Pineapple.
I find it ironic that hentai titles based on dating simulation games seem to work better than *non-hentai* titles based on the same material. While the characters in series like To Heart and Kanon are lifeless and dull, Koihime has vibrant, likable characters that may not be the most original in the book, but they're fun to watch even when they're *not* having sex. (I know, that's an awful thing to have to say, but it's frightening how many hentai fail that criterion.) Granted, they're a bit stereotypical (Anzu's the young-looking, perky one and kinda looks like Shinobu; Suzaku's the hot-headed tomboy and kinda looks like Motoko; et cetera) but they're fun, and that really, really helps things here.
We can also thank Pink Pineapple for doing what few other studios seem willing to do: throw a budget at the art and animation staff. Koihime looks good. The rural background looks like something out of a postcard from some inaka gift shop - it's pretty, pastoral, and obviously not what foreigners immediately think of when they visualize Japan in their minds. (Where is this? Mito? It's so *green*!) But, of course, most viewers are going to care less for the scenery than the sex, and you'll really get a lot of bang out of your buck for this one.
I can't believe I just typed that.
In any case, Koihime has some very well-animated sex scenes with some very appealing female characters, which really shouldn't be such a rarity in the hentai genre.
There, end of story, right? Not quite. You see, Koihime also has a bit of a plot, though it's there mostly to facilitate the sex scenes. The whole thing tying everyone together is definitely in the realm of fantasy (which is strange because Koihime feels more like a slice-of-life series than a modern fantasy), and while it's a little contrived, it actually works. Certainly it's just as believable as a lot of non-hentai harem shows out there (or maybe I just missed out on the National Geographic article about the civilization of flying turtles in the South Seas).
In the end, Koihime transcends the superficial Love Hina pastiche that it looks like it's going to be, and instead, turns out to be one of the better hentai titles in NuTech's library. It's not trying to be "out there" - this isn't a show for fetishists, but rather, for young, randy couples who don't mind a story to go along with their porn. Is it the greatest thing since sliced bread? No, but it is the next best thing to End of Summer and Virgin Night, while still being squarely in the "explicit" category.
That's fine with me.
One of the relatively few hentai to actually fall in the *good* category, Koihime is a definite keeper. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: ADULTS ONLY. What a shock. There's some slapstick violence, but the obvious reason is the sex, and there's a lot of it. Thankfully, all of it is consensual, so mature audiences should feel free to give this a shot.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (1/2)
Koihime © 2000 elf / Pink Pineapple
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